THE FOUNDER of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth has finally spoken out regarding the Ubuntu Linux distribution's practice of sending users' information to third parties, saying that in future releases there will be a "clear way" for users to disable advertising features.
Shuttleworth's firm Canonical sponsors the development of the Ubuntu Linux distribution and caused an uproar after it integrated Amazon advertising into the Dash desktop search feature, sending users' keystrokes to Amazon to enable it to display personalised ads.
After the Electronic Frontier Foundation voiced its concerns along with many users, Shuttleworth finally wrote a public statement, claiming that future releases will have a "bold, clear way for you to turn on and off network queries across ALL scopes for any given session in the Dash".
Shuttleworth made the comments in a post on a mailing list for the Unity window manager, his first public comment on the matter since Canonical released Ubuntu 12.10 in October 2010. He said that Ubuntu will have a toggle switch in the Dash itself and that the firm will try to incorporate this at the kernel level.
Canonical has faced a significant user backlash for pushing the Unity window manager and then tighter integration with Amazon. While the firm's decision to display adverts on the Dash was the straw that broke the camel's back, the company has been edging closer to Amazon for a long time, including using Amazon's S3 cloud storage service for Ubuntu One.
Although Shuttleworth didn't say when the changes will appear, Canonical is preparing Ubuntu 13.04 for release in April, and given the disquiet among existing Ubuntu users even that might not be enough to stop them from looking for alternatives. µ
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